While many might think of Pennsylvania as a blue state, Donald Trump’s victory punched a hole in the “blue wall” that Pennsylvania once represented. But on the state level, Republicans have long been influential. Republicans have controlled the State Senate since 1994, and currently have a 33 to 16 majority (with one vacancy). With the exception of a four-year period from 2007 to 2011, Republicans have controlled the State House since 1995, and currently have a 121 to 82 majority. These large majorities have given Republicans substantial power to push a destructive agenda in the Keystone State.
Despite Republican’s longtime control of the state legislature, Democrats have a substantial opportunity to retake both chambers in 2018. To do so, Democrats would need to win 10 State Senate seats and 20 State House seats. This year, they can take back the majority in both chambers.
EveryDistrict’s Legislative District Index (LDI) ranks state legislative districts on a scale from 100 to -100, using statewide elections data. Districts with a score of 100 would vote for statewide Democratic candidates by 100 points (with the Democratic candidate receiving 100% of the vote); districts with a score of -100 would vote for statewide Republican candidates by 100 points (with the Republican candidate receiving 100% of the vote).
EveryDistrict divides winnable districts into three categories: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. Tier I districts lean Democratic but are held by a Republican state legislator. Tier II districts lean slightly Republican, with a range of 0 up to -5. Tier III districts lean slightly more Republican, with a range of -5 up to -10. For more information about EveryDistrict’s LDI, please click here.
In 2018, only the even-numbered State Senate seats are on the ballot. Even with that limitation, there are more than 10 State Senate seats within reach. There are 6 even-numbered Senate Districts that lean Democratic (Tier I): Senate Districts 6, 12, 16, 26, 40, and 46. There are 4 Tier II districts: Senate Districts 10, 24, 38, and 44. Then, there are 4 Tier III districts: Senate Districts 20, 32, 34, and 50.
Districts 16 and 40 are based in and around Allentown, a former Democratic stronghold where Hillary Clinton struggled. Districts 6, 12, 24, 26, and 44 are all in the Philly area. Districts 32, 38, and 46 are outside of Pittsburgh in “Connor Lamb country.” District 34 represents an outside chance because of State College (home of the Nittany Lions), while District 50 is south of Erie.
In the State House, there are 18 seats that lean Democratic (Tier I): House Districts 18, 49, 58, 61, 74, 120, 152, 157, 162, 163, 142, 146, 150, 151, 170, 176, 177, and 189. There are 15 seats in the Tier II category: 4, 10, 46, 51, 52, 53, 104, 122, 137, 155, 158, 165, 167, 168, and 183.
Districts 122, 137, 176, 183, and 189 are based north of Allentown and Bethlehem. District 120 is outside of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Districts 18, 53, 61, 74, 142, 146, 150, 151, 152, 158, 155, 157, 162, 163, 165, 167, 168, 170, and 177 are all in the Philly area. Districts 10, 46, 49, 51, 52, and 58 are outside of Pittsburgh. District 171 covers State College, while District 104 has enough of Harrisburg to make it competitive.
What’s At Stake
Pennsylvania’s blue leanings haven’t stopped its Republican legislators from attempting to implement an ultra-conservative agenda.
While other states have implemented common-sense gun safety measures in the wake of mass shootings, Pennsylvania Republicans have refused to do so. Pennsylvania does not have an assault weapons ban, nor does it ban bump stocks. The Republican-controlled legislature has also refused to invest in workers; Pennsylvania’s minimum wage remains at the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
Pennsylvania college students graduate with more student debt on average that any other state. A Democratic legislature would invest in students and boost funding for higher education.
In 2017, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have implemented one of the strictest abortion bans in the country – banning abortion at 20 weeks, among other measures. Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast without a law protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. But Pennsylvania Republicans have refused to allow passage of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would extend non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.
EveryDistrict endorses candidates in competitive districts that are committed to moving their communities forward, have strong connections to their districts, and have a campaign strategy in place to win. Below are the candidates we’ve endorsed so far and that you can support by donating or becoming a fundraising champion today.